Fall 2017 Workshops

The Ontario Master Naturalist Program workshop series is separate from the Master Naturalist certificate program. Each workshop is offered separately and certificates are not awarded for completion.


Edible and Medical Wild Plants: Exploring Traditional Ways

Date: Saturday, September 16, 2017

Start Time: 10 a.m.

Location:  Room 2015, Simcoe Hall, Lakehead University, 500 University Ave., Orillia

Instructor: Karen Stephenson, Ontario Master Naturalist, and Bob Bowles, Coordinator of the Ontario Master Naturalist Program

Description: Wild plants have always been used for healing and as food by First Nations, as well as the original colonists who lived in this area. Most plants had a use and many were known to prevent illness, treat symptoms, and cure ailments. From the early 1800’s onward, many drifted away from living off the land; nowadays many are incorporating traditional ways into their daily routines. This workshop will cover certain plants that can be used for food or as treatment for certain ailments. Both edible and medicinal plants will be explored and discussed in this workshop, before participants visit several sites to identify a variety of the local edible and medicinal plants within Simcoe County.

Fee: $75 +HST


Ontario Mosses and Liverworts and Their Role in Environmental Ecosystems

Date: Saturday, September 30, 2017

Start Time: 10 a.m.

Location: Room 2015, Simcoe Hall, Lakehead University, 500 University Ave., Orillia

Instructors: David Bradley, Natural Heritage Information Centre, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and Bob Bowles, Coordinator of the Ontario Master Naturalist Program

Description: There are 548 species of mosses, 172 species of liverworts, and 4 species of hornworts recorded in Ontario. This introductory level workshop will briefly describe the life cycle of bryophytes in comparison to that of vascular plants, and present a general overview of the ecological requirements of these understudied species. In 2001, Dr. Frank Cook compiled a list of 239 species of mosses in Simcoe County. In this workshop, we will group the species on that list by habitat, location, leaf shape, leaf midrid, and special features, to create smaller groups. Following two presentations in the classroom, we will visit some sites close to the university campus to learn how to identify the many species of mosses that we have in Ontario. We will move beyond the historical, technical study of mosses and liverworts using compound microscopes to assess habitat, leaf shape and characteristics in order to group the species into smaller groups of species that look very similar. We will use hand lenses and microscopes, but only on the final stages of identification. This friendly approach to the study of mosses and liverworts will enable participants to understand the ecological value of these plants and how they can be effectively incorporated into home landscaping in ways that are more environmentally friendly than tuft grass lawns.

Fee: $75 +HST


Mushroom Identification and Appreciation

Date: Saturday, October 14, 2017

Start Time: 10 a.m.

Location: Room 2015, Simcoe Hall, Lakehead University, Orillia Campus

Instructors: Bob Bowles, Coordinator of the Ontario Master Naturalist Program, and Luke Eckstein, Ontario Master Naturalist

Description: What we call mushrooms are the conspicuous, and in most cases distinct, spore-producing fruiting bodies of the many species of fungi that grow in our area. They come in different sizes, shapes and colours and can appear overnight, covering lawns, meadows, woods, and wetlands, growing on living and dead matter and often forming mutually beneficial relationships with other living flora. Although mushrooms have long been considered a culinary delicacy, some are poisonous and even fatal if consumed. They can be identified to species by features like spore colour, gill attachment or growth substrate. This workshop will focus on species identification using these features and will touch on microscopic features of spores and colour reactions to chemicals. This workshop will also help you understand the mushroom kingdom and dispel some of the legends and mysteries that surround these fungi. You will learn how important mushrooms really are to healthy ecosystems.

Fee: $75 +HST


Fall Migration of Gulls and Waterfowl on the Shores of Lake Simcoe from Orillia to Barrie

Date: Saturday, November 18, 2017

Start Time: 10 a.m.

Location: Room 2015, Simcoe Hall, Lakehead University, 500 University Ave., Orillia

Instructors: Bob Bowles, Coordinator of the Ontario Master Naturalist Program

Description: Every year in late fall, several interesting bird species are found on the shores of Lake Simcoe between Orillia and Barrie. These include several species of loons, grebes, ducks, geese, and gulls found among a large number of more common species like common loons and Bonaparte gulls as they feed on the large schools of emerald shiners that come into shallow waters along the shores. After learning about this range of species in the classroom, participants will explore opportunities to observe rare birds at close range, as they follow the schools of shiners into shallower waters along the shores. These birds are usually found far out in deep, rough water making observation difficult, but at this time of year participants will be able to view them in comfort at very close range. 

Fee: $75 +HST